Skip to content

Letters to the Editor

A Christmas to remember for Woodfibre workers Editor, What a Christmas all of us who work at Woodfibre had! For me as local union president, there was hardly a moment I wasn't thinking about the shutdown notice we had just received, that we were no l

A Christmas to remember for Woodfibre workers


What a Christmas all of us who work at Woodfibre had! For me as local union president, there was hardly a moment I wasn't thinking about the shutdown notice we had just received, that we were no longer employed as of March 9, 2006.

There was shock first as in the preceding months we had been talking to management about a Hydro co-ordination project as well as other hoped-for improvements and upgrades that would have greatly increased the viability of the mill.

After the shock came worry and stress, wondering about the future of the people I was elected to represent, as well as my own and my extended family's future in this town.

Then came anger as I thought about the timing and short notice that seemed designed so as to not allow us time to raise legitimate objections.

Then came dogged resolve not to give up and roll over. People in the community called and offered both sympathy and support. As a union we decided we would not go away quietly. We have met with the Mayor and Council and have received total support. We are taking a delegation to Victoria to protest what is happening not only at our mill, but around the forest industry in general in our province.

There used to be a social contract in this province whereby if a company wanted access to Crown land and timber they provided manufacturing jobs, which helped build communities and the province. The companies for years lobbied government to change the Forest Practices Code to allow them unfettered access to timber with no restrictions on where they could take their capital. Successive governments, NDP and Liberal, granted their wishes and changed the Code to suit the forest industry's desires.

The latest revision a couple of years ago gave them everything they wanted with a promise from the corporations that they would reinvest in the province's forest industry. They haven't done that, and in fact the industry has never been in worse shape, as most of the companies, including Western Forest Products, are controlled by investment funds with boards outside the province. They have diversified income streams that allow them to cut whole sectors off, as is the case here in Squamish, as was the case in Gold River, Prince Rupert and numerous sawmills. This is the end result of bad forest policy, and if it isn't changed soon, there will be a lot more shutdowns, with the resultant loss of control of the forests of B.C. by all its citizens.

Personally I am taking the position of supporting the transfer of licences to the province's native bands. I used to fear for my job security if this was to occur, but not after comparing what has happened to us to what Squamish Nation Chief Bill Williams recently said after the band purchased TFL 38 from Interfor, and I quote: "We will be looking after the land the way it should be done to ensure long-term forestry."

Chief Williams stated no current jobs will be lost, and he sees it as a step forward not only for the band, but for Squamish as well. He stated that he had witnessed what had happened at Woodfibre as the company stepped back from the industry, and said the land has always been a part of the Squamish's traditional territory, and that is where the band's interest remains: "We will not move on because the market is low, or because we have failed to put the money in to sustain the business." He finished by saying they are here for the "very long term" and are happy to finally be in a position where they can take their place in the economic wheel of Squamish. This seems like a more reasonable and decent approach than what we are the Interfor workers before us have been put through.

What is the point of a forest industry here in B.C. if it doesn't provide manufacturing jobs and support communities? It seems better to leave the trees standing than to give them over to the decisions of distant and unconnected corporations.

Doug Muir

President, Pulp and Paper Workers of Canada Local #3

The harsh economic realities of a mill closure


With the recent closure of our mill people want to know why. In Canada 2005 was a year of 30 pulp and paper mill closures, Squamish being one of them. What factors have brought the industry to this? After all, at one time Canada was the number-one world producer in this sector.

The loss to a small community can be devastating. Families, businesses, tax base, social costsyes, the world has changed, and change again it will.

In researching the reasons for all the closures, common denominators include:

1. Low demand, with newspaper and magazine sales down;

2. A strong Canadian dollar;

3. Competition from emerging markets in Asia and South America;

4. More efficient mills in those developing countries;

5. High energy prices;

6. Low Canadian productivity;

7. In developing countries, less stringent environmental laws;

8. Trees grow faster in the southern hemisphere.

The above factors represent a "perfect storm" against the industry in Canada.

Rob Greene


Football champions remembered


Re: the sports year in review, The Chief, Dec. 30:

Congratulations to the 2005 Squamish Titans football team for making the GSL playoffs; however, it is not the first time in history that any Squamish team has made the GSL playoffs.

In the late '60s and early '70s the Squamish Chiefs (10-12-year-olds) and the Squamish Titans (13-14-year-olds) made the playoffs nearly every single year. In fact, in 1970, the Squamish Titans coached by Phil Manson, Tom Shields, Gary Woods and Chuck Doherty upset and undefeated West Van team (the Broncos) to win the GSL championship.

Once again, congratulations to the 2005 Squamish Titans, but to set the record straight, it was not the first time in history a Squamish football team has made the GSL playoffs.

Tim Cyr